Friday, October 14, 2011
Review of Net Impact by Donald J. Bingle
Net Impact by Donald J. Bingle is not your dad’s spy novel. This is a modern spy thriller about a realistic agent working for a shadow company, The Subsidiary, affiliated with several different sovereign nations. The details are crisp and main character is a fully drawn man with an exciting career in espionage, but a terrible life at home, as he rarely sees his wife and son, who are becoming more and more upset with his always gone lifestyle. His marriage is in serious trouble as he is sent on a mission to New Zealand to stop the transfer of unmanned drone plans and goes from there as our he uncovers the truth about a very diabolical plot apropos for our modern internet age.
The most fascinating thing about the novel is the inclusion of the fictional virtual world of Reality 2 Be, think Second Life, where a lot of secret and illegal activity happens—which is not fiction. I had no idea, but in the virtual worlds of the internet money is transferred, criminals conduct clandestine meetings, and rebels and terrorists get together right under the nose of the world governments who have no idea of how to monitor and police the virtual worlds. Sure, we’ve seen spies infiltrate the lairs of the bad guys, but I hadn’t seen one infiltrate a virtual world before, and it was cool to see how the plot brought the virtual and real world together in a very fascinating twist.
The strength of the book is the accurate main character, who is so good at what he does, but not in a sort of silly James Bond way. This is more of a Jason Bourne crossed with that cool uncle of yours who was a lineman in football, then army ranger, and a cop before he became a private consultant. He’s a realistic spy, who uses his keen intellect and pragmatic philosophy to get the job done—and he’s known for causing mass destruction, but he gets the mission accomplished no matter what. Sure, there are a few gunfights, fires, computer hacking moments, and big explosions, but OMG, the ending is pretty amazing and I didn’t see that one coming. I’m pretty certain no spy has ever used what this guy used to accomplish the mission at the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as well as Bingle’s other novels, Forced Conversion and Greensword. His short fiction has always entertained me as well, and I look forward to his next project.
Net Impact is a short, punchy, realistic spy thriller for the modern age, and once you read this, you’ll never look at the internet the same way again.
Paul Genesse, author and editor